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Note: Martin Ender made a very good point, that votes can act as a reward for e.g. a well-written explanation. I remember thinking in those terms a long time ago, but hadn't thought about it that way for a long time for some reason. This kind of unravels the crux of my argument, although I think there is still potentially something of value here. I'm leaving the original question untouched for now, while I try to think about how to proceed.

Update: I've decided to leave this feature request in place (as opposed to withdrawing it), but instead of using the defunct reasoning that "it's useless when you really think about it", I present it as an aesthetic preference: Vote distribution is not in general a good measure of a post's value (in my view), and can be a distraction from the main activity at hand, and it would be nice to be able to submit in a more quiet environment. It would also be a very small protest against the idea that a natural way for people to show their appreciation is to click a little button on a screen. But I understand, as DJMcMayhem pointed out, that this feature has absolutely zero chance of being approved and implemented.

As an aside, I think this post generated some interesting and unexpected discussion and was somehow therapeutic for me, and I hope that my display of folly provided some entertainment. (And I expected more downvotes, but I suppose the question is still a bit young.)

Original post follows:


This feature request applies only to codegolf.SE and only to main, not meta.

I think it would be cool to be able to make a post (question or answer) that doesn't allow anyone to upvote it. The reasoning is specific to this site. There is, conveniently, already an objective scoring method associated with tasks that aren't specifically popularity contests. (For most golf questions it's just the size of your code, and of course there are other scoring methods for some problems.) So, voting for (correct) answers is superfluous, if you think about it. Community wiki has some connotations that make it unsuitable for general posting. And providing an option that would disallow any (up or down) voting on a post would be a way to avoid negative feedback for making low quality posts. So it seems fine to allow downvoting, while safely disallowing upvoting.

As an added bonus, with this option you would be able to get the satisfaction of achieving optimality if you can manage to keep a score of zero, whereas with the current system you can only get the illusion of getting closer to optimal without ever achieving it.

I don't have a specific reason why this option should be allowed for questions, but I also see no reason to disallow it; so for now, it might as well be included in the feature request for the sake of consistency. But I don't think disabling upvoting on a question should make that option apply to all the answers; the motivation for this option is not related to community wiki.

The feature could be added as a checkbox next to "community wiki" and labelled as "disable upvoting" or something to that effect.

Perhaps using this option could be a way to indicate that you care more about solving problems and optimising than you do about the reputation system, but I don't think the intention is very important; the option would have the same effect regardless of your intention.

I understand that this is not likely to be a popular idea, which is probably an extreme understatement. But I honestly think this could improve the quality of the site, and I'd like to use this option if it became available. (Looking at the privilege table, the ones I don't have yet don't look particularly useful, but if I wanted them then I could just make a bunch of posts the normal way to get there, and then use the option after that.) So it seems worth putting it out there for your consideration, at the risk of total ostracization. (Anyway, I already proposed this in chat a bit ago, although I'm not sure anybody took it seriously.) And of course, nobody would be forced to use this option if they didn't want to.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ This seems like a solution looking for a problem ... \$\endgroup\$ – AdmBorkBork Oct 24 '16 at 13:28
  • \$\begingroup\$ I did see your comment in chat and I did think about it. Currently my only counter point is that sometimes people downvote seemingly randomly (especially if you're using a golfing language, or if someone whacked the screen on mobile), so the idea of zero being a score of optimality can be a matter of luck at times. Other than that I don't have enough points yet for a full answer. hence this comment. I do appreciate that you're bringing up our existing voting problem though. \$\endgroup\$ – Sp3000 Oct 24 '16 at 13:35
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    \$\begingroup\$ "So, voting for (correct) answers is superfluous, if you think about it." This seems to ignore that there's more to a PPCG answer than a working solution and a score. \$\endgroup\$ – Martin Ender Oct 24 '16 at 15:13
  • \$\begingroup\$ @MartinEnder Such as explanation, diagrams? I'm not very fond of writing those. But you are right that it is something I didn't consider when I wrote that sentence. I kind of like the mystery of an unexplained answer, although explanations are cool too and can take a lot of work. Hmm. \$\endgroup\$ – Mitch Schwartz Oct 24 '16 at 15:18
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    \$\begingroup\$ @MitchSchwartz I guess it's a matter of taste, but I usually don't upvote unless there's an explanation. (The mystery of unexplained code is only fun if you know the language well enough to decipher it yourself.) \$\endgroup\$ – Martin Ender Oct 24 '16 at 15:23
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So, voting for (correct) answers is superfluous, if you think about it.

I've thought about it, and I remain thoroughly unconvinced. Even if posting is its own reward (and that is antithetical to the gamification of the network), when you've spent time coming up with clever tricks you want people to see them, and since most people don't change the sort order from the default (by votes descending), forcing your vote total to be non-positive has the effect of reducing the number of people who will see how clever you've been.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ 1) If the question has a leaderboard, then it can get visibility that way. 2) Anybody who reads the problem and is interested in the language you used will be motivated to look for answers in that language. 3) People who are just dabbling are probably not going to take the time to understand your answer very much even if they happen to see it (unless it's a very simple answer), so how much is their seeing your cleverness really worth? 4) I think it's fun to struggle to solve and improve, and to get beaten by people who see things you didn't. Network gamification and attention seeking? Blech. \$\endgroup\$ – Mitch Schwartz Oct 24 '16 at 14:47
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Setting aside the feasibility of this request, I can pretty much guarantee it will not be implemented. Obviously, I can not say for sure since I am not an SE employee, but we have made simpler requests (that puzzling.se has also made IIRC) with an overwhelmingly positive reception, and the response is just

No, it's not worth the dev-time to customize a single site.

If they refuse to change a constant value awarded, I highly doubt they'll go to the effort to implement an entirely new type of post, especially since that type of post is completely opposite of the nature of the SE network.

That being said, I don't really think this feature would do any harm. But it certainly would not do any good whatsoever. The biggest problem is that voting is not superfluous! If a new user comes to the site and looks at a challenge, the most interesting a most clever answers should be displayed first. Unfortunately our voting culture is not perfect, but this feature would not fix that.

As an added bonus, with this option you would be able to get the satisfaction of achieving optimality if you can manage to keep a score of zero, whereas with the current system you can only get the illusion of getting closer to optimal without ever achieving it.

This is completely untrue. People do not downvote very often on this site, and this would only work if we had a culture where downvoting for the tiniest of flaws was expected. Not even flaws but the tiniest of shortcomings This is not the state of our site currently, and even if it was, a site like that is not one I want to participate on. Not to mention that even then this wouldn't work perfectly since lots of perfectly fine posts get downvotes for no reason.

Perhaps using this option could be a way to indicate that you care more about solving problems and optimising than you do about the reputation system, but I don't think the intention is very important; the option would have the same effect regardless of your intention.

If you care more about solving problems and the fun of code-golf than you do about the reputation, then that's great! I (and many many other users also) do too! That is exactly why you should participate on this site. But I don't see how earning reputation subtracts from the fun of solving problems. If anything I feel like it enhances the reward of solving problems. Not only did I come up with an answer and have fun doing so, but other users have looked at my post and said:

Yes! You solved this problem very well!

Here's a hypothetical situation. Let's say a user comes to the site and over a long period of time posts several hundred fantastic answers, but doesn't care about reputation at all. I would say this user absolutely deserves a high reputation. Not because they care about the points, or because they subscribe to the "gamification" of the network, but because they have earned the trust of the community. That's exactly what reputation is. When a user donates a lot of time and energy into a community, reputation proves that they really are established users who understand the community.

So overall, I feel like this feature request is seeking to fix the wrong problem. There's nothing wrong with giving rep to users who don't want it. If earning reputation actually bothers you, SE is probably the wrong place to participate on.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Agreed that "SE is probably the wrong place to participate on", but I've decided it's worth the compromise. \$\endgroup\$ – Mitch Schwartz Nov 6 '16 at 17:06

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